Books are my life. Truly. If I’m not reading, or writing, I feel lonely—almost as if someone I loved went missing. Personally, I love urban fantasy and science fiction more than almost any other genre, although I’ve been known to read mysteries and thrillers as well. Why do I love urban fantasy so much? Well, answering that question could take hours, so I decided to tell you the top seven things I love most about the genre.
1. NO SOCCER MOMS: Don’t get me wrong, I think soccer moms are great. I just don’t want to read about them. Regular day-to-day life is boring enough. When I read fiction, I want to hear about women who lead a different life than I do, female characters who can save the world if necessary. Writers like Kelly Gay—with her police officer, Kim Harrison—with her bounty-hunting witch, and Patricia Briggs—with her shapeshifting mechanic, have all shaped and helped to re-define women by giving them roles where they are leaders in their community.
2. GRITTY WRITING: I love noir writing, dark twisted stories and rough characters. I like knowing that the lead character has dirt under his fingernails and that he’s got the skills to fight and win. I crave blood and guts and steamy settings. Writers like William Gibson (Neuromancer) and Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim) and Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) deliver that and more. And I know that William Gibson is technically classified as a writer of cyberpunk, but I love him so much that I just had to add him in the mix.
3. HOT MONSTERS: I fell in love with monsters when I was teenager. Vincent Price was my hero and I watched his films on a regular basis. Monsters ruled back in the ’50s and the ’60s. Classics like The War of the Worlds (Martian monsters), Dracula (vampires), The Mummy (monsters from the grave), Night of the Living Dead (zombies), and Rosemary’s Baby (demons) have all paved the way for the monster trend we’re experiencing in fiction today. I loved monsters back then and I still love them today.
4. YA LIT: I love literary writing, especially when a story crosses that bridge between poetry and fantasy. YA authors like Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth), Malinda Lo (Ash), Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder), Holly Black (Tithe), and Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely) have all hit the literary nail on the head in my opinion. I could read their books over and over, because their stories are so rich and their writing is so lush.
5. MYTHS AND LEGENDS: Myths and legends—which evolve and change with each retelling—touch us on a deep, subconscious level. These primal tales come from our distant past; they’ve been written and rewritten until they’ve become part our collective subconscious—if a collective subconscious even exists. When these stories are at their most fantastical, their raw, visceral elements can make even the most intellectual, left-brained person pause and wonder.
6. PARANORMAL: Life doesn’t fit in a neat little box. There will always be things that we either can’t understand or can’t explain. I believe that the supernatural is forever entwined with the mundane—we just can’t see it for what it truly is. That’s why I love stories with paranormal characters or elements. They allow us to pull back the veil and see what might be on the other side. Paranormal stories force us to consider that there might more to this world than what we can see on the surface.
7. SETTING: Whether the story is set in a dystopian future (like Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) or in a recognizable city (like New Orleans in my novel, Afterlife), I love it when the setting actually becomes a character. Also known as milieu, this story element adds both realism and believability to the book. This is why setting is so important in fantasy—if the writer misses here, he or she could easily lose the reader.
So, now you know what I love about urban fantasy. I’d really like to hear your thoughts. To get this comment party started, I’m giving away a signed copy of my upcoming novel, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles.
Just post a comment below to be entered for the book giveaway. Contest ends Wednesday, Sept. 27. Winner to be announced on Thursday, September 28. The winner has 3 days to contact me, or I will award the book to another commenter.